Church, churches and denominations.

OK, the Catholic Church recognises itself as the only Church.
Protestants are organised into denominations.

  1. Should we at all times refer to them as denominations, or can one refer to them as a Protestant Church.
  2. Should the buildings in which they worship be referred to as places of worship, rather than as churches?

I’m not sure now, if I’m confused, or if others are.
I understood that within the Catholic Church, there is Roman Catholic/Western Rite/(Latin Rite) and Eastern Rite Churches(I can’t remember their names exactly).

The Orthodox Churches are not in communion with the Catholic Church, so are they Churches or denominations?

When people refer to Eastern Orthodox Church, do they mean Eastern Rite, or is there an Eastern Orthodox Church in communion with the Catholic Church as some peoples associated statements seem to suggest this. (Or are people genuinely confused and mixing things up)

Some say denominations while others say churches. But I would just refer to them as churches. Since it is only the doctrines that make them different. The building is still there for the same reasons though.

What is your personal thought on this?

Not exactly.

The Church is the people of God in liturgical assembly, in local communities (diocese), and as a whole body. When the Catholic Church refers to Churches (with a capital C) she is referring to those particular Churches (diocese) with bishops who have apostolic succession. Therefore, the Catholic Church is properly termed a Church as is the Orthodox Churches. They are valid particular Churches.

The Catholic Church does not recognize as Churches those groups who do not have valid apostolic succession. They are, rather, ecclesial communities. They should not be referred to as a Church (capital C).

However, in practical usage, many people often do refer to the denomination by the name they call themselves-- such as “The Episcopal Church.” I try to make the distinction by using ecclesial community, denomination, or church with a little c. The word “church” with a little c simply means a convocation or assemby.

Church with a little c is fine for referring to the building in which a group of Christians worship.

Yes, within the Church there are various liturgical Rites, the Latin Rite being the largest of the autonomous particular Churches and 22 autonomous particular Churches that are also fully Catholic and in union with the Pope. Autonomous here does not mean out of communion with the Pope, it has a particular meaning in church law.

They are Chuches.

No. The Eastern Orthodox Churches are not in union with Rome. Eastern Rite Churches are Catholic and in union with Rome.

Could be that people are mixing things up. The Eastern Rite Catholic Churches are different entities from the Orthodox Churches.

I, out of force of habit more than anything, have always referred to Protestant denominations as Churches, ie Anglican Church, Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, etc, but now wonder if I should refer to them as Anglican denomination etc.
By refering to them as a Church, it implies that I assign to them the same validity as I do to the Catholic Church.

It seems, church with a small ‘c’ is ok for the buildings the use to worship in.

Does the Church hold that their liturgies and sacraments, -ordinations are equally valid?

I prefer to call our separated brothers in Christ, non-Catholic Christians, that pretty much encompasses a vast majority, and I’m on a self designated mission to take the word “Christian” back for the Catholic Christians in the world.


They have valid Apostolic Succession and valid Sacraments. They are Churches in the true sense of the word. They are in schism from Rome, but are still Churches.

What about the others with valid Apostolic Succession and valid Sacraments but in schism from Rome:

Polish National Catholic Church
Assyrian Church of the East
Oriental Orthodox

Same policy? Just curious.


Yes but. . . The Roman Catholic Church is The Church. Absolutely!! The Eastern Orthodox and Non-Chalcedonian “Oriental ORthodox” Churches are “Sister Churches.” All others are “Ecclesial Communities.” But I have read that certain Roman Catholic officials have referred to the PNCC and certain other small groups with technically valid (“irregular but valid / illicit but valid”) Apostolic Successions as “Daughter Churches” whose destiny is eventual absorption into the Roman Catholic Church.


:frowning: No, no, no! They are Churches! I know that as a catholic you feel the need to state that protestant churches are not in any way like the catholic churches, but that is no reason to put them down…
Capital C or lower case c, you can’t put down Jesus Christ’s church…
I think this is down to conditioning of what the catholic church has taught you!
Call them churches not denominations. I don’t discriminate against any of them, I love them all with all my heart because Jesus Christ blesses them all with miracles, healing and through their worship too. Don’t you see that we are all the same because we were baptized all the same? - in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit!
Come on, think about it.:stuck_out_tongue:

One poster has already explained why they are not Churches in a technical sense, as oppossed to examples like the EO who are. The original poster is from Donegal up in the six counties in Ireland and asked about the Eastern Orthodox. If he sees this I’d like to point out the EO make up the 3rd largest Christian group in the Irish Republic - also in addition if he wants to know more about the EO we have many EO members here and I am married to a member of the Russian Orthodox Church myself so am more informed than the average Catholic about the Orthodox Churches as I had to think seriously about the differences and similarities between our Churches before marrying my wife.

The Orthodox do not regard non-Orthodox Churches as possessing apostolic succession at all for example. It does not mean they think we are all heretics, doomed to burn (I’ve had that reaction only once from a positively rabid Russian priest who seemed to equate been truly Christian with been Russian) but that is what they believe. In the same way as Catholics apostolic succession is a matter of dogma for us and while we can view many Protestants as good and faithful Christians we cannot view their denominations as Churches and remain faithful to Catholic teaching.

:shrug: …umm, okay then. But even when I was in a protestant church I loved the catholic churches too! Now that I am in a catholic church, I still love the protestant churches too! They both contain the holy spirit and they both preach the same Christ.

Yes I have no argument with that but Catholics see the Catholic Church as containing the fullness of truth and all others as been imperfect to some degree or other in comparision. If you are interested in investigating the Catholic Church you have to be aware we do not regard Protestant groups by and large (with some exceptions) as Churches.

We do see the Protestants as our seperated brethren and long for the reunification of all Churches when they will embrace the truth of the Catholic faith. That may sound harsh and doctrinaire but it merely reflects the teaching of our Church.

Surely you don’t believe the divisions in the Church are in any sense God’s will. In John 17:22, Jesus prayed: " I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, **so that they may be one, as we are one."

Surely you don’t believe that God the Father answered Jesus’ prayer in the negative. No. The divisions in the Church - every one of them - are man’s doing, not God’s . . . they are the result of human pride and arrogance alone, tragic mistakes. Instead of perpetuating those mistaken human divisions, we are called to reunite the Church so that all are back in one Church, under Christ’s Vicar, the Pope.


I know the catholic church is the one true church of course, but I still love going into the Methodist churches! - I also pray for the glorious day that we will all unite in, Jesus name. That would be the greatest achievement of humanity.

I am a protestant and i am proud to be one, I may not agree with other peoples views on different subjects but i will certainly not say that their religion is wrong, it has been clearly stated to me that the catholic church was one of the first but i do not feel that this fact gives that branch of religion the right to claim supremacy over other factions, if we all accepted that there were differences and that we believe different things then there would be no need to fight because there would be more tolerance of others and their thoughts feelings and beliefs.

Have you even read the scripture, “On this rock”?
The catholic church is the one true church. But people like to stray from that fact! God only knows why…
A covenant was made to Peter and that Covenant shall never ever break! Amen.

never read it lol but me and my family are all protestant and i don’t think any of them have read it either, im not objecting to any part of anyone’s religion i am only saying that we should all respect each others religions and not fight we are all entitled to our own thoughts and beliefs, i am tolerant of the Catholic faith as i am tolerant of the Muslims the Jews and the Hindus that populate this world, I cannot discriminate against other religions when i know mine is not perfect and does not hold all the answers.

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